Everything You Need To Know About Tick Bites On Horses

Last Updated on October 23, 2022

Tick bites on horses can be very problematic as ticks can transmit various diseases to horses. These small insects can be found in many countries around the world, and they will happily latch on to many different species of animals, including horses. Let’s find out everything you need to know about tick bites on horses, including how to prevent them and what to do if your horse gets a tick.

Are Tick Bites On Horses A Problem?

Ticks are small parasites that survive by latching onto and sucking the blood from many species of mammals. They have a complex lifestyle that involves several stages of molting. In between each molt, they will need to find a host animal on which to feed.

In the initial stages, ticks are tiny and resemble very small spiders. They climbed to the top of tall grasses where they wait until they feel the vibrations of an animal passing. They then spring onto the fur of the animal and travel around the body until they find their preferred site of attachment.

Different types of ticks tend to favor different areas of the body, but many of them like crevices where they cannot be easily dislodged. In horses, some species of tick feed on the head, body, and neck, while others prefer to attach themselves around the ears, under the tail, or in the nasal passages.

The tick in itself is not a major problem for the horse. They may cause localized skin irritation and infections, and in cases of an infestation can occur in areas such as the ear canal.

However, the main problem with ticks bites on horses is that they can transmit diseases. There are many different tick-borne diseases around the world such as Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and babesia. Many tick-borne diseases present a serious health risk to horses, and therefore it is in the best interests of the equine population to reduce the number of tick bites on horses as much as possible.

Best Methods For Tick Prevention In Horses

Most equine healthcare professionals advise using a systemic or topical anti-parasitic treatment to prevent ticks in horses. These come in the form of sprays, powders, wipes, and spot-on treatments. The most effective tick prevention treatments for horses will only be available from a veterinary clinic – those sold in feed stores and agricultural merchants are not normally up to dealing with a tick infestation.

These treatments work in a variety of different ways. Some can kill the tick as it crawls along through the horses fur. Others need the tick to bite the horse, and it will be killed as a result of ingesting the horse’s blood.

You can also reduce the likelihood of your horse getting ticks in the first place by reducing the population of ticks on your grazing land. Ticks tend to hide in longer grass while waiting for a horse to pass by, so regular mowing of pasture land to cut the long grass can be beneficial.

You should also consider the other animals which graze on the same land as your horse. Some species of animals, such as deer and sheep, tend to have a high level of tick infestation and should not be grazed on the same pasture as horses. Other animals, particularly poultry such as Guinea fowl, will eat ticks and can reduce the population of these parasites in your horses field.

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How To Get Rid Of Ticks On Horses

If you find a tick on your horse, it is important to try and remove it as soon as possible. A tick does not normally transmit disease as soon as it bites onto a horse, as it needs to feed on blood first. Checking your horse daily and removing ticks as you find them is the single most effective way of reducing the incidence of tick borne diseases.

It is vital to remove ticks using an approved method as otherwise you may cause more harm than good. Ticks will attach to the horse by burying their head into the skin. Some methods of tick removal may leave the head embedded in the skin or cause the tick to regurgitate infected blood back into the horse.

The aim when removing a tick is to remove the entire parasite without causing any further harm to the horse, and a horse tick remover is the ideal tool for this.  Alternatively, you can use a pair of tweezers to gently grasp the head of the tick and pull it away from the horses body in a twisting action.

You will hear many other suggestions of methods for tick removal, such as smearing the insect in petroleum jelly or burning it with a cigarette. These methods are not safe and may leave the horse at a higher risk of infection.

Can A Tick Bite Cause Diarrhea In Horses?

A tick bite alone is unlikely to cause diarrhea in horses. However, there are many diseases which can be transmitted by ticks and some of these can cause diarrhea.

If your horse is suffering from persistent or severe diarrhea, it is important to seek veterinary advice. It is worth mentioning to your veterinarian whether you have recently had to remove any ticks from your horse.

Can A Tick Bite Cause Diarrhea In Horses

Summary – Tick Bites On Horses

So, as we have learned, tick bites on horses can pose a serious health risk to the equine population as ticks spread many different diseases. Tick bites can be prevented in horses by using a systemic or topical anti-parasitic treatment, reducing tick habitat, and grazing animals on the land which will eat ticks, such as poultry. Ticks should be carefully removed using a tick removal tool or tweezers, taking care not to leave the head embedded in the horse’s skin.

We would love to hear your thoughts on tick bites in horses and how to prevent them! Does your horse seem to get ticks no matter what preventative methods or treatments you try? Or perhaps you’ve got another insect related problem in horses that you are struggling to get sorted? Leave a comment below and we will get back to you!